Daytona Beach, FL, -- What is Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's name doing on a dragster?
That's a question that drag racing fans may be asking themselves this summer when they see a jet-powered vehicle bearing the logo of the nation's leading aviation university at National Hot Rod Association events around the country.
The rocket car, which accelerates from zero to 60 mph in less than a second and reaches a top speed of 270 mph, raises eyebrows everywhere it goes, whether it's racing against other jet dragsters or going it alone.
It also promises to raise awareness that "there's more to Embry-Riddle than meets the sky," says George Dewees, manager of student recruiting for the university's aviation maintenance science program. "We want race fans to know that our degrees in engineering and maintenance extend not just to aircraft, but to high-performance vehicles of all kinds."
Embry-Riddle's sponsorship of the dragster, created and raced by Larsen Motorsports, highlights the university's degree programs in Aerospace Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, which have a minor in High- Performance Vehicles, and its degree in Aviation Maintenance Science.
Driven by Elaine Larsen and maintained by Chris Larsen, the Embry-Riddle- sponsored dragster is powered by a Pratt & Whitney J-60 jet engine, burns 25 gallons of jet fuel per pass, and weighs 1,350 pounds with fuel and driver. Its chassis, built by Larsen Motorsports, is made of Chrome-Molly tubing. It has a 279-inch wheelbase. The body is aluminum and fiberglass.
The vehicle is a redesign of an earlier Larsen dragster, Miss-Ta-Fire, which Embry-Riddle sponsored for two years. During that time, aerospace engineering and aviation maintenance students and their professors analyzed Miss-Ta-Fire's performance using computational fluid dynamics and suggested improvements that were incorporated in the new vehicle.
"That got the two groups working together," Dewees says of the joint effort. "Students got to see firsthand the results of a project they designed. It's something they did that ended up being real and tangible, not just on the computer."
"Embry-Riddle's enthusiastic and inventive students are going to get me up over 300 miles per hour," says Elaine Larsen, who already holds a number of speed records driving Miss-Ta-Fire.
The Jet Dragster's Schedule:
June 24, 2006, Atlanta Dragway, Commerce, Georgia
July 22, 2006, Music City Raceway, Nashville, Tennessee
July 27-30, 2006, AirVenture 2006 (on display only), Oshkosh, Wisconsin
August 4, 2006, Texas Raceway, Kennedale, Texas
October 14-15, 2006, Moroso Motorsports Park, West Palm Beach, Florida
November 25-26, 2006, Moroso Motorsports Park, West Palm Beach, Florida
Embry-Riddle, the world's largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace, offers more than 30 degree programs in its colleges of Arts and Sciences, Aviation, Business, and Engineering and meets the needs of students and industry through its educational, training, research, and consulting activities. Embry-Riddle educates more than 32,000 students annually in undergraduate and graduate programs at residential campuses in Prescott, Ariz., and Daytona Beach, Fla., through the Extended Campus at more than 130 teaching centers in the United States, Canada, Europe, and the Middle East, and through distance learning.